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Essay: Idea of Return Vs the Idea of Progress | Term Paper Queen

Sample Essay

The title of Leo Strauss’s lecture ‘Progress or Return?: The Contemporary Crisis in Western Civilization’ suggests the problem inherent in the very word ‘progress’ that has ‘led us to the brink of an abyss’ therefore alternative to progress, that can be return, must be considered. ‘Return’ is the translation to a Hebrew word that means ‘repentance’. Strauss states that ‘deviation or sin or imperfection is not original’ man is originally at home in his father’s house and he becomes a ‘stranger through estrangement’.

Repentance is ‘return’ and redemption is restoration (Strauss). Judaism is concerned with return than progress. The hero of Strauss’s jewish thoughts is Moses Maimonides[1] and in all of his works he has treated Maimonides with a great reverence. The frequently asked question about Strauss is the reason behind a modern Jewish thinker’s keen interest in a medieval thinker. Strauss has expressed interest in the modern theological-political crises facing the jews and judaism and the causes of the crises. Leo Strauss along with his contemporary, Hannah Arendt[2], calls for a return to ‘Athens’(classical political philosophy) to examine and further address the crisis the West is facing that is the loss of stable political authority which has imperiled the Western democracy. The solution suggested by Strauss is to return to Plato and Aristotle and that some traditions of the West, ‘Jerusalem’(the Bible) has contributed to this nihilism,by undermining the authority of the Greeks (G.Havers).

[1] The greatest Jewish Medieval thinker

[2] An influential German  Jewish political theorist

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